Wimbledon | AELTC and LTA cop fines from WTA for banning Russian and Belarusian players

There was shock when news, reported first by the Daily Mail, broke that the WTA has fined the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) for excluding Russian and Belarusian players from The Championships and the warm-up tournaments at Eastbourne, Nottingham and Birmingham this summer.

We stand by the decision we made, we are deeply disappointed at the reactions of the tours to that decision and I probably can’t say anything more on that at this time, I’m afraid… Yes, we have appealed. Sally Bolton, AELTC Chief Executive

Wimbledon organisers, who are said to be fuming over the action, have appealed against the fine, with AELTC Chief Executive Sally Bolton telling reporters on Monday that the Club is ‘deeply disappointed’ by the Tour’s reaction to its decision to impose the ban following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I think the first thing to say is that it is the subject of a legal process so I can’t comment specifically on that,” Bolton said. “We stand by the decision we made, we are deeply disappointed at the reactions of the tours to that decision and I probably can’t say anything more on that at this time, I’m afraid.

Asked if the AELTC would appeal, she said: “Yes, we have appealed.”

Bolton is still waiting to hear from the ATP on whether the organisation also plans to impose a fine over the ban.

Asked about whether it will be the AELTC or the LTA who pays the fines, Bolton said: “We are separate organisations and we have been fined separately, so we are addressing it separately, but it is subject to a legal process so I can’t say anymore.”

There are concerns that WTA CEO and Chairman Steve Simon, who imposed the fines, is the Chair of the appeals process

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The ATP, WTA, and International Tennis Federation all announced in May that the governing bodies will not award ranking points for this year’s Wimbledon in response to the ban

“We thought really, really long and hard about that decision,” Bolton said. “It was an incredibly difficult and challenging decision to make.

“It was not one we took lightly. We thought carefully about the ramifications of taking it.

“But it was absolutely the right decision for us. It was the only viable option in the context of the Government guidance in place and we stand by that decision.

“We accept that others will take a different view view but we absolutely stand by that decision.”

It seems implausible that the AELTC and LTA should be punished for standing up against Vladimir Putin’s unlawful and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, while the majority of tour players have continued to benefit from the prize money and experience that Wimbledon and the lead-up events provide.

While the ban took out the likes of Daniil Medvedev and Aryna Sabalenka from contention, stripping the ranking points from Wimbledon seemed excessive since the majority would suffer the consequences.

According to the Daily Mail, the LTA has been slapped with a fine of £620,000 ($750,000/€720,00) from the WTA, while the AELTC has been fined £207,000 ($250,000/€240,000).

Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, believes tennis bosses should be praised, not punished, for their actions against Putin

© Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said she felt the LTA and AELTC should be applauded for their tough stance against Russia and Belarus as the war continues in Ukraine.

“Since February the vast majority of the international sporting community have come together in solidarity to condemn Putin’s barbaric actions in Ukraine,” said Dorries. “Regrettably the international tennis federations appear determined to be outcasts in this.

“The LTA and Wimbledon should be praised for their move to make Russia an international sporting pariah, and doing what is right in the current circumstances.”

Whether the appeal will be successful remains to be seen, as the report suggests that the WTA will only accept an appeal process when the fine has been paid in full.

There are also said to be concerns over the involvement of WTA Chief Executive Steve Simon as Chair for the appeal process, having reportedly issued the fine in the first place.

According to Matt Hughes writing for the MailOnline, the LTA has been given the biggest fine as they run the tournaments at Nottingham and Eastbourne, but the AELTC has also been impacted as, due to a historical quirk, they hold the licence for Birmingham.

British tennis chiefs are particularly aggrieved at being fined as the tournaments in Nottingham and Birmingham operate at a loss every year, and are only staged to support the development of women’s tennis.

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